By Robert Mann.
The Best and Worst of 2010
Top 10 Movies
1) Inception ****
Following up a film as masterful as The Dark Knight was never going to be an easy task for Christopher Nolan but with Inception he created a blockbuster every bit as brilliant as his previous directorial effort, if not more so. Not just a film that boasts great visuals but ones that uses said visuals to dig deeper than any other blockbuster this year has gone, this is a film that proves as intellectually challenging as it is exciting and it is this, combined with the superb acting, fantastic cinematography, flawless editing, brilliant writing, pulse pounding action and of course eye-popping visual effects – pretty much everything in the film is perfect – that truly makes this the number one film of the year. Also, no other film this year will leave you as perplexed as this one – it’s guaranteed to have you thinking long after you leave the cinema, something that can’t be said for that many movies, not even the ones in the rest of this year’s top ten.
2) Kick-Ass *****
Just when you thought the superhero well had gone dry, the genre manages to surprise you with a film such as Kick-Ass. Easily the most original superhero movie seen in a long while, this is a film that boasts superb writing and direction courtesy of Brit director Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman (who have also been given the job of making next year’s X-Men: First Class) as well as superb acting from the likes of established stars like Nicolas Cage and rising stars such as Aaron Johnson and the superb Chloe Moretz. With a superb storyline that combines hilarious humour with a deadly serious plot, a script that dishes up truly sizzling dialogue and action sequences that really get the pulse pumping, everything here is pretty much perfect, making for what is possibly one of the very best superhero movies ever made. Kick-Ass this film truly does.
3) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World *****
In a virtual tie for second place, director Edgar Wright’s comic book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the second comic book based movie to make it into the top ten this year. Every bit as brilliant as the above film but embracing a less real world and more fantastical style, this is a film that boasts distinctive visuals, superb videogame style action and great performances – although if you aren’t that keen on Michael Cera you may not appreciate this film as much as some. Perfect casting or not, this is a film that is aimed squarely at the geek in every one of us, not watered down in any way to make it more palpable for mainstream viewing and it makes for another excellent addition to Edgar Wright’s (another British director) already stellar resume, following up Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz with tremendous flair.
4) Monsters *****
The one film in the top ten that doesn’t carry a production budget in the millions of dollars but rather cost a meagre $15,000, Monsters is a truly amazing technical achievement. Boasting the kind of visuals you might expect from a studio picture but the heart of a indie flick, ‘Monsters’ is not your average alien based sci-fi film. Director Gareth Edwards (yet another British director – 2010 certainly saw quite a few British directors get their chance to shine) hasn’t simply made the next District 9 by doing a film that is primarily based around action and effects but rather opted to tell a love story against the backdrop of a world threatened by destruction from an alien threat. What goes in the foreground proves every bit as interesting as the action taking place in the background and it is this that makes the film truly special. If nothing else, Edwards certainly has a bright future in visual effects – everything done here was done on his home PC using off the shelf photoshop software and it looks truly incredible.
5) The Social Network *****
Who’d have thought that a film about the creators of Facebook could possibly be so good? With director David Fincher at the helm, The Social Network has come to be regarded by most critics as one of the best films of 2010 and it is easy to see why. The story of Mark Zuckerberg is actually a very interesting one and in David Fincher we had the perfect director to really do justice to it. Drama isn’t always the easiest thing to make appeal to a very broad audience, particularly when that audience consists of a large number of younger viewers, but Fincher has really done a fantastic job of making a film that boasts superb writing, excellent cinematography and great acting – all things that make this film potentially award worthy – and yet still make it appeal to younger generations who would normally see the rubbish stuff that is out in cinemas rather than the truly great films. Simply outstanding, ‘The Social Network’ is easily the best drama of 2010.
6) Toy Story 3 *****
Pixar – there, said it. That word when attached with a film all but guarantees that what you’re going to get is a brilliant work of animation that doesn’t just boast fantastic animation work but also has a great storyline, sincere humour and real heart. While I don’t consider Toy Story 3 to be Pixar’s best movie like many – when every movie they make is virtually a masterpiece not every one can be their best and for me their best films are still Wall-E and Up – Toy Story 3 is still a truly superb movie, delivering plenty of emotional depth to complement the three dimensional depth. Interestingly, as only one of two 3D movies in this year’s top ten, the 3D on display is not among the best seen in 2010, technically being fully three dimensional but without the extra dimension really being used in any interesting or exciting ways. Regardless, though, the film itself is stunning and is another must see from 2010.
7) Tron Legacy *****
Best seen in 3D, although still extremely impressive even in 2D, Tron Legacy has been compared by many to last year’s Avatar. Such comparisons aren’t entirely fair as, aside from the release date and the fact that both are 3D sci-fi effects blockbusters, they don’t all that much in common but nonetheless in terms of the level of spectacle it delivers Tron Legacy could very well be described as this year’s answer to Avatar. It may not push the envelope quite as much as that film and may be lacking more in other key areas but it will still blow your mind with its sensational visuals and the 3D, which follows Avatar’s example of “beyond the window” 3D, truly does justify the extra cost of a 3D ticket. Tron Legacy is one hell of a ride and easily the 3D movie of the year.
A stunning work of animation from Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli, Ponyo is as much a piece of art as it is a film. Sadly, this is a film that held no interest for younger viewers upon its cinema release – apparently, they would rather see something decidedly average such as Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – and perhaps it could be said that this isn’t really intended for them, instead being aimed at the child within all of us, but I would still recommend trying to get kids to see this film as few other family films will deliver as much beauty as this one. Ponyo isn’t simply an enjoyable family film but also a film that will feed your soul.
9) Whip It *****
Providing a refreshing twist on the chick flick but also sadly ignored by the majority of moviegoers upon its release in cinemas, Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, Whip Itoffers a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging look into the world of a sport you likely didn’t even know existed. Not at all into sports myself, the presence of this film in the top ten is certainly saying a lot. Considerably better than any of the other mediocre films aimed at the female demographic this year, this is one film that female viewers should really give a viewing. It delivers something truly fresh and different, quite a rarity in today’s chick flicks.
10) Iron Man 2 *****
The third comic book based film in this year’s top ten, Iron Man 2 may not break any new ground in the way that Kick-Ass did and it essentially just delivers more of the same of what we got in the first Iron Man film but, given that what we get first time around made for a superb popcorn movies, it is hard to find much fault here. Excellent acting from a superb cast – Don Cheadle, replacing Terrence Howard, is particularly worth noting – and Robert Downey Jr. on top form combined with thrilling action, dazzling effects and lashings of humour make for a film that, while certainly no masterpiece, is perfect entertainment for a night of cinema viewing.
NOTE: Avatar Special Edition, Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Re-Releaseand Toy Story 2 3D are not included in the top ten due them being re-releases of older films.
Bottom 10 Movies
1) Fred: The Movie NO STARS
It’s amazing what rubbish people will watch for free on YouTube. Fred Figglehorn is one of the most annoying “comedy” creations I have ever seen played by one of the most untalented “comedy” actors I have ever come across yet has proven hugely popular, attracting as many as 25 million viewers at the peak of his popularity. Just why anyone thought that people would actually pay to see Fred on the big screen, however, is something of a mystery. Originally aired as a TV movie in the states but released in cinemas here in the UK, Fred: The Movie is easily the most unfunny and criminally irritating film of 2010, one long (even with the relatively short running time) ride into hell, in which we are subjected to the most painfully high pitched voice ever heard through a non-stop series of dreadful singing, temper tantrums and full on screaming. Do your ear drums a favour and never ever see this one.
2) Vampires Suck ½
The clue is in the name on this one. Vampires Suck and boy does this film suck. With a complete absence of any actual comedy talent, apart from Ken Jeong who is flushing his career down the toilet at an alarming rate, and an almost complete absence of actual laughs, Vampires Suck continues in the tradition of awful spoof movies as established by the likes of Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie, hardly surprising given that it was made by the exact same “creative” team that made those films. There is really little positive that can be said about this film – it truly does suck.
3) Dinner for Schmucks ½
I had average hopes for this one. After all, director Jay Roach was the man behind both Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, two films that I found to be very funny, and the stars were the usually reliable Steve Carell and the rather good Paul Rudd but sadly Dinner for Schmucks turned out to be a complete car crash of a movie, its bad taste never managing to translate into laughs and the comedy talents of its stars being completely wasted. Another one to avoid as I suspect only a schmuck would actually enjoy it.
4) Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back 2D ½
Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back 3D *
Just why anyone thought that a sequel to ‘Space Chimps’ was necessary is beyond me. It wasn’t a good film and wasn’t even a hit. That didn’t stop them from makingSpace Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back – which may have been intended for a straight to DVD release, that would have made more sense – a film that actually manages to make the original look like a masterpiece by comparison. That is how truly awful this film is and to expect moviegoers to pay even the regular ticket price for this is criminal, making them pay more to see the poorly done 3D is daylight robbery. In every way this truly feels like a straight to DVD movie and DVD is clearly where it should have stayed.
5) The Bounty Hunter *
There was a time when Jennifer Aniston was a bright and lively screen presence, a true comic talent who was actually worth seeing on the screen. That time seems to be long gone, though, as in everything she does now she just seems bland. The Bounty Hunter was no exception and not even the hugely entertaining Gerard Butler could save this film. The real blame, however, goes to director Andy Tennant, whose complete lack of focus in the film – is it supposed to be a romance, a comedy or an action movie – results in a film that ends up coming across like none of these things, failing to be romantic, not being funny and lacking any decent action sequences whatsoever. The weakest of this year’s inexplicable craze for bringing together action and romantic comedy, this film is just a misjudged mess from start to finish.
6) Arthur and the Great Adventure *
Arthur and the Invisibles was not a very good film but even by the standards of that I would never have expected sequel Arthur and the Great Adventure to be as bad as it has turned out to be. With cheap animation, atrocious acting, a weak storyline and a generally weird look and feel to this film, Luc Besson’s second film in the Arthurtrilogy is simply bizarre rather than good and I doubt anyone but the most undemanding of kids would actually get any enjoyment out of it.
7) Furry Vengeance *
While enjoyable enough to appease very undemanding children, Furry Vengeance is a film that really shows that Brendan Fraser and Ken Jeong – his second film in the bottom ten – really need to get new agents. Delivering nothing that hasn’t been seen many times before, lacking real laughs and not even featuring particularly good effects, there are few good things that can be said about ‘Furry Vengeance’. Yet another dreadful family film, this one was at least overlooked somewhat upon its cinema release.
Tooth Fairy *
This would have been received much better had it been done before The Game Plan. Like many other actors before him trying to resuscitate a dying career, Dwayne Johnson has found himself stuck playing the lead roles in family films (although in 2011 he finally finds his way back to action with roles in Faster and Fast Five) andTooth Fairy was his weakest one yet, essentially just retreading stuff he’d already done in that aforementioned family film, only with less laughs and a much higher cringe factor. Tooth Fairy is to moviegoers what a root canal is to a dental patient – something you’ll want to avoid if at all possible.
9) The Back-Up Plan *
Another romantic comedy to find its way into the bottom ten, this one was let down by weak TV quality writing from a couple of writers whose only previous experience was writing for TV shows. Often feeling more like a TV movie than a made for cinema film,The Back-Up Plan is low on laughs and fails to even deliver a chemistry that convinces.
10) Alpha and Omega 2D *
Alpha and Omega 3D *½
With cheap looking animation, a lack of laughs and an absence of excitement, Alpha and Omega is another 3D animation that simply isn’t worth your time or money. There really isn’t much more to say about it other than that you will have literally seen everything this has to offer in other much better films higher class animation studios.